Skip to Global Health Institute Full Site Menu Skip to main content
October 13, 2017

Global Health Diplomacy and Security

Lessons learned from the Ebola and Zika Outbreaks

Event Series: Global Health Security Seminars

Showing the Global Health Diplomacy and Security: Lessons Learned From The Ebola And Zika Outbreaks Video

Next year will mark the centenary of the 1918 Spanish influenza, one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history. Although infectious disease experts believe that, on average, large-scale pandemics occur about once per decade, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of emerging infectious disease outbreaks in the past few decades. Global trends such as increasing globalization, urbanization, population displacement, and intrusion into new environments can promote the likelihood of infectious disease outbreaks, as we have seen with SARS in 2003, H5N1 in 2007, H1N1 in 2009, MERS in 2012, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2015, and the re-emergence of yellow fever in 2016.

Ambassador Jimmy Kolker lent a unique perspective about the political actions behind the response to and control of disease outbreaks. He discussed the importance of global health diplomacy in the response to the 2014 Ebola and 2015 Zika outbreaks, and shared what lessons may be applied in the response to future epidemics.

This event was part of the Global Health Security Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Science and Security and the Global Health Initiative. Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, speakers in the series will address critical issues in global health in an effort to promote greater dialogue regarding pandemic preparedness across the university and the wider Washington D.C. community.

Ambassador Jimmy Kolker retired in January 2017 as assistant secretary for global affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, Kolker was the department’s chief health diplomat, representing the United States at World Health Organization meetings and as alternate board member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Kolker had a 30-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State where he served as the U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso (1999-2002) and to Uganda (2002-2005). From 2005 to 2007, he was deputy global AIDS coordinator in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.